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The two young US citizens were detained while teaching English at a local LDS meetinghouse. Last month, a Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced to six years.
The body representing 23 million evangelical Christians reacts to the imprisonment of a Danish Jehovah Witness.
Meanwhile, a Baptist theological seminary has been temporarily closed by a Moscow court.
Most administrative prosecutions end in punishment. Many are prosecuted for sharing their faith on the street. “Believers go out to share their faith less often, and give out publications or invitations less openly”.
Several EU countries and the USA show their opposition to Vladimir Putin. “We will not tolerate Russia’s continued attempts to undermine our values”, says UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
The president got 75% of the votes, his biggest electoral victory. The future of religious freedom for the evangelical minorities is very much dependent on the course of East-West relations.
Polls say the President will win again with at least 70% of the vote. Evangelicals hope the state’s efforts to stengthen national unity will not further restrict the freedoms of faith minorities.
In their own quiet way, Russia’s Protestant denominations are continuing to evangelise.
Violence could break out in Hamburg as thousands protest against world political leaders. Christians set up five Houses of Prayer.
The criminalization of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is a mistake, says the Italian Evangelical Alliance. Freedom of worship should be guaranteed for everyone, “even for those who, in our view, are completely wrong.”
The government will close down the central offices of the religious organisation. The pressure on non-Russian Orthodox groups makes evangelical Christians wonder who will be targeted next.
Russian authorities speak of 49 injured after blast near central metro station. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described it as a “terrorist attack.”
“This kind of precedent is highly frightening and raises the question of who’s next”, says Evangelical-Baptist leader Vitaly Vlasenko.
Gavin Matthews on Arkady Ostrovsky’s The Invention of Russia.
“Russian evangelical Christians have a call to be model citizens but now they are at risk of being considered lawbreakers for their loyalty to Jesus Christ”, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance says.
It appears once again as if the Russian state will be moving simultaneously in opposite directions. Restrictive measures are combined with financial support for Protestant and multi-confessional projects.
Election in Crimea is questioned by many states. Only 47% of population voted. Evangelical Christians suffer under anti-evangelism law.
The law that makes evangelism illegal has come into force in Russia, on Wednesday 20th July. The situation is still better than in the URSS days, says evangelist Alex Jaruchik.
“Russian Evangelicals are not problematic and radicalised citizens and they should not be treated that way”, says Thomas Bucher, the General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance.
A Commentary on Russia’s new anti-terror legislation. By expert William Yoder.
“The European Evangelical Alliance is extremely concerned about Russia’s new anti-terrorism law, which greatly restricts religious freedom”. Evangelism is no longer allowed outside religious buildings.
“It’s not going to stop us from worshipping and sharing our faith. The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom”, Russian evangelicals say.
Any missionary or national believer must secure a government permit to share the gospel. Letter by Christian leaders: "Vladimir [Putin], on behalf of thousands of evangelical Protestants, we ask you not to allow this repressive and unconstitutional law to be adopted."
The distribution of literature by three Baptist Christians could be considered a picket.
Evangelical groups fear “legitimisation of persecution”. 3,000 Baptist churches write to Putin: “If the country’s laws are in conflict with the Bible… Christians will always take the biblical position”.